Extension of Foster Care


We believe 18 is too young for someone to be on their own, so the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services developed a program called Extension of Foster Care within the Independent Living division.

Young adults ages 18 up to 21 may enroll in Extension of Foster Care Services, which gives you the ability to prepare for your future by receiving additional educational opportunities, employment opportunities, and consistent and safe housing.

DCS staff provide education and training vouchers to help pay for post-secondary education, whether college or technical school.

We also provide placement support or a living allowance, access to life skills classes, and leadership opportunities.

The services are optional, but DCS wants to assist in the transition in order for our youth and young adults to become more confident, productive individuals in society and achieve lifelong success.

This additional time will help you: 

  • Prepare for your future through additional educational and employment training opportunities.
  • Find and secure consistent and safe housing.
  • Build permanent connections with caring adults, including relatives, mentors, and community members.

Some specific benefits that may be available to you:

  • Education and Training Vouchers (up to $5,000 a year) for post-secondary education
  • Placement support in an approved placement or an Independent Living Allowance
  • Independent Living Wrap Services
  • Access to life skills classes and leadership opportunities
  • Support of a child and family team, Family Service Worker, and court representatives to help you achieve your goals

Receiving an extension of foster care services is a choice. You can decide to leave foster care when you turn 18. You can also change your mind and return before age 21 in order to receive extended services and support, provided you meet the requirements.

You can choose to receive Extension of Foster Care Services after 18, but need to do one of the following to qualify for services:

  • Completing high school or an equivalent program
  • Be enrolled in college, community college, or a vocational program
  • Employed for at least eighty (80) hours per month
  • Participating in a program or activity designed to promote or remove barriers to employment
  • If you are unable to meet one of the above requirements due to a medical condition, you may also be eligible for services and support.

There are a number of living arrangement options available to you if you continue in foster care after age 18:

  • Dormitory
  • Licensed or approved foster home
  • Supervised Independent Living (This housing option can be an apartment with or without a roommate or a room-and-board living arrangement, such as a dorm. Such a placement will need to be approved, and you may be able to receive an Independent Living Allowance directly if you choose this living arrangement)
  • You may live in the home of a relative or non-related supportive adult. Additional steps will need to be taken in order to qualify for placement support
  • Certain group home settings

Young adults who receive extended services and support to help ease the transition to adulthood also have responsibilities. They include:

  • Signing an agreement to participate
  • Working with the Child and Family Team to create and update a Transition Plan.
  • Working with the team to reach Transition Plan goals
  • Meeting monthly with the Family Service Worker to track the plan, identify any needed support, and discuss how to achieve the Transition Plan goals
  • Attending a court hearing or administrative review every six months

Download the Extension of Foster Care handout